Section 5. Promoting International Understanding


  As mutual dependence has been deepening year after year in today's international community, Japan achieved a rapid economic reconstruction in the post-war period and is now the second-largest economy, next to the United States, in the free world. Therefore, the impact of Japan's moves on international politics and economy and the accompanying responsibility Japan should take have grown drastically in recent years. Under these circumstances, international expectation toward, and interest in Japan have reached unprecedented heights.

  However it must be admitted that misunderstanding and mistrust born out of lack of mutual understanding have caused frictions with other countries in the international community as seen in economic frictions with North America and Europe. It is essential that Japan redouble its efforts for cultural exchange and public information activities in order to promote greater international understanding.


1.   Cultural Exchange

  In order to maintain and develop relations with other countries on a long-term and more stable foundation, it is essential to promote cultural exchanges with those countries and deepen broad-based mutual understanding, friendship and goodwill between their peoples. Now that there are frictions with other countries and that misunderstanding vis-à-vis Japan and the perception gap are said to lie behind the problem, cultural exchanges have come to play an increasingly important role.

  From these standpoints, Japan has carried out various cultural exchange projects through the Japan Foundation, a special corporation under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in addition to exchanges of young people and other projects directly implemented by the Government. Projects carried out by Japan Foundation include exchanges of persons, teaching of the Japanese language, public performance, exhibitions, films, and other audio-visual projects.

  Japan also extends cultural grant aid to help promote culture anal education in developing countries.

  Particularly, Japan has made special efforts to teach Japanese language to foreigners against the background of a growing enthusiasm to learn it especially in the ASEAN countries, China and the Republic of Korea.

  In fiscal 1985, Japan conducted the 2nd Japanese language ability examination in 17 countries. Comprehensive projects which combined various cultural events also took place throughout the world in 1985, as seen in the function in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea. These cultural exchange projects have borne fruits.

  In an effort to establish the legal framework to promote cultural exchanges, Japan has also concluded cultural agreements with 33 countries. And, there are regular cultural consultations with 16 countries to discuss cultural exchanges under these agreements. In fiscal 1985, Japan held consultations with Spain, China and the United States.

  In recent years, there have been an increasing number of cultural exchange activities conducted by the private sector and local governments and with which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strengthened its cooperation. As part of its efforts, the Ministry held a liaison meeting of corporations, organizations and others engaged in international cultural exchanges in January 1986.


2.   Public Information

  Like cultural exchange, public information activities at home and abroad have come to be increasingly important as Japan has taken on greater international responsibility.

  It has become increasingly important for Japan, a country determined to promote good relations with all countries and to contribute to international peace and prosperity, not only to obtain accurate information for a correct understanding of international developments, but also to promote greater international understanding of the country by explaining the domestic situation and its foreign policies as best it can. Since Japan's massive current account surpluses have created growing interests in Japan and given rise to mounting criticism of the country, it is still more important to strive to develop greater international understandings of Japan and deeper mutual understanding in the international community. Realizing the importance of this need, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs utilizes every possible means to disseminate information overseas in cooperation with private-sector and local government bodies.

  In promoting its overseas public information activities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs makes every effort, in view of the economic frictions with the United States and West European countries, to explain those Japanese social and economic realities that form the basis for Japan's external economic policies to the media and other overseas opinion leaders through lectures, meetings, symposiums, invitations to Japan, and the entire range of options at its command. At the same time, efforts are being made to promote understanding by presenting a balanced picture of modern Japan and the Japanese people in publications, films, and other media designed mainly for the general public.

  It is thus all the more essential, given the present call for "a Japan more open to the world," that every Japanese national be fully aware of Japan's international position and contribute to this goal of the country.

  Therefore, it has become increasingly important that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs try to promote a broader public understanding of the international situation and Japanese foreign policy and extend active cooperation and support to popular-level international exchange activities in close cooperation with local governments and private-sector organizations.


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